Nobody could have blamed Tyler Alexander for thinking, as he came out of the game in the eighth inning Tuesday night at UTA’s Clay Gould Ballpark with the bases loaded and nobody out, “Uh-oh, here we go again.”
Two weeks ago in the same park, he and TCU were victimized by seven consecutive hits with two outs in the seventh inning.
Not this Tuesday night.
Shortstop Keaton Jones smartly turned an unconventional double play, and relief pitcher Trey Teakell followed with a strikeout to get the Horned Frogs out of the inning and back on the way to a 7-1 victory.
“I wasn’t too worried,” Alexander said with a smile of relief.
Elliott Barzilli hit a two-run home run, Connor Wanhanen had a two-run double, and right fielder Nolan Brown had a run-scoring single and a sacrifice fly for the Horned Frogs (27-8), who not only redeemed themselves for the 8-1 loss to UTA on March 31, but also shook off a Big 12 series loss at last-place team Kansas State over the weekend.
“Just what the doctor ordered,” coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “Good, clean baseball.”
A break doesn’t hurt, either.
The Horned Frogs took advantage of one on the double plays that Jones managed to turn in the eighth inning. With the bases loaded, Travis Sibley hit a slow bouncer to shortstop, not hard enough to start a 6-4-3. But Dalton DeLeon, running from second, seemed to slow up as the ball approached Jones, and Jones swiped him on the shoulder for an out and threw to first base to complete the double play.
“He was, honestly, waiting for the ball to go through, and I don’t know why,” Jones said. “I kind of saw that, got the ball — you’re out. It’s kind of how it went. It changed the whole momentum. They had the momentum. Teakell needed some help. It helped a lot.”
Teakell struck out the next hitter and TCU remained in control with a 6-1 lead, avoiding potential disaster in an inning that began with a walk, Brown’s error in right field and a walk — Alexander’s only two walks of the game.
Riley Ferrell struck out the side in the ninth, giving the TCU closer 31 strikeouts in 19 innings.
Alexander struck out nine. The run was unearned.
“He was really, really good, and he’s getting better,” Schlossnagle said.
The Horned Frogs had 10 hits and drew eight walks against seven pitchers for UTA (15-20). Wanhanen, hitting in the No. 3 spot for the first time, had two hits, as did Brown and catcher Evan Skoug.
“I thought we had really good at-bats throughout the course of the game,” Schlossnagle said. “Even though we didn’t score in the middle innings, there was never a time where our hitters weren’t in control of the at-bat. And that hasn’t been the case.”
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407